Lit­tle short-term po­ten­tial in floun­der­ing Jays squad

Lo­cal die-hard Blue Jays fans may have long wait ahead be­fore team achieves great­ness

Sackville Tribune - - SPORTS - Wal­lie Sears Write Call

Re­mem­ber Alex An­thopou­los? Yep, he’s the man who patched to­gether a more- than- de­cent lineup that took the Toronto Blue Jays to a pair of league play­off fi­nals.

Well, now he is in At­lanta and re­build­ing the Braves into a pow­er­house, one that threat­ens to win its sec­ond con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship in 2018-19.

And to en­sure that hap­pens, he has just signed one of the great­est ath­letes to ever per­form with the Blue Jays.

Now the gen­eral man­ager of the Braves, An­thopou­los has guar­an­teed his team an out­stand­ing power hit­ter in the mid­dle of the lineup who can also play third base with the best of them.

And for his ser­vices this com- ing sea­son, Josh Don­ald­son will re­ceive a tidy $23 mil­lion. Not bad for an ag­ing star. But, oh, how he could in­spire Cana­dian base­ball fans if he had re­mained in Toronto.

You may re­mem­ber he ex­pe­ri­enced one in­jury af­ter an­other and barely got on the field the en­tire 2017-18 cam­paign. It now ap­pears, ac­cord­ing to com­ments, he felt the Blue Jays’ train­ing staff was way off base and failed to pro­vide the proper treat­ment. It def­i­nitely didn’t take long for him to re­turn to the field and to show his great tal­ents late last sea­son af­ter be­ing traded to Cleve­land.

It’s ap­par­ently true that An­thopou­los drained the farm sys­tem in or­der to ob­tain play­ers like Don­ald­son but he filled the seats with 50,000 fans on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis. Last year that num­ber was no­tably less and the new man­age­ment, while re­stock­ing the farm, has ac­com­plished lit­tle in plac­ing a com­pet­i­tive team on the field; they had their worst sea­son in well over a decade last year.

And fans aren’t buy­ing prom­ises of great­ness nor are they rush­ing to snap up sea­son’s tick­ets as they view their team as one in dis­ar­ray. And they love Alex An­thopou­los so much, he re­ceived over­whelm­ing ap­plause when he ap­peared in Rogers Cen- tre last sea­son.

Cer­tainly, the Jays’ man­age­ment have made some moves but mostly in the coach­ing ranks. Char­lie Mon­toya will serve as the new man­ager, re­plac­ing John Gib­bons, and is be­ing well re­ceived. Only the pitch­ing coach and third base coach are be­ing re­tained, with new peo­ple in place they hope will help spark a resur­gence.

But Blue Jays watch­ers – the so-called ex­perts – see lit­tle short­term fixes be­ing un­der­taken. In the long term, it ap­pears as though a good many young men who have de­vel­oped their skills in the mi­nors could make an im­pact. But will the fans and spon­sors be pre­pared to wait that long?

This com­ing sea­son should see some in­ter­est­ing things tak­ing place but it’s un­likely the pos­i­tives will come from the pitch­ing staff. Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts, the Jays will be go­ing on hope – hope that Mar­cus Stro­man will have a come­back and that Aaron Sanchez will re­cover from in­juries long enough to throw up some good num­bers. Af­ter that, who knows?

And so, Canada’s team is drift­ing at mid sea and the life rafts seem a lit­tle leaky.

Even with so many neg­a­tive vibes em­a­nat­ing around MLB about the hopes for the Jays, you can count on a good many fans right here in Sackville liv­ing and dy­ing on every pitch. Let’s hope man­age­ment can find and sign one or two re­li­able pitch­ers be­fore it’s too late.

Per­haps those diehard lo­cals might con­sider tak­ing up golf or ten­nis for the next cou­ple of sea­sons.

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